Over 80 schools changed their names in the wake of George Floyd's murder. See our database

Neena Hagen

Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate general who founded the Ku Klux Klan. Henry Sibley was a Minnesota governor who massacred Native Dakota people. Walter L. Parsley was a white supremacist who murdered scores of Black residents in the nation’s only successful coup.

These are just three of the dozens of controversial figures for whom schools were named before the country's racial reckoning in 2020. Following George Floyd’s murder and subsequent protests, more than 80 schools nationwide dropped their racist namesakes, a USA TODAY analysis found.

82 schools have removed their racist namesakes since 2020:Dozens now honor people of color.

The states with the most school name changes 

Prominent Confederate figures were an immediate target of school name changes.

Robert E. Lee, a leading Confederate general, had his name removed from 17 schools; Stonewall Jackson, another general, from eight schools; and Jefferson Davis, the Confederacy’s president, from four.

Southern states, particularly Virginia and Texas, saw a flurry of name changes, with activists demanding that schools distance themselves from historical figures who advocated and fought for slavery.

Schools in Northern states primarily targeted controversial presidents, such as Woodrow Wilson and James Buchanan.

A school was named after a violent white supremacistFor years no one knew who he was.

Map of schools that have changed their names since 2020

In a few cases, racial justice advocates dragged up little known evidence that incriminated more obscure historical figures, which triggered local debates about how the nation’s racist history is taught in school curricula.

About half of schools that were renamed now honor people of color — celebrated teachers, civil rights leaders, entrepreneurs — while others reflect geographic markers and generic features to avoid future controversy.

Search our database of school name changes since 2020

Using public school directory files from the National Center for Education Statistics, USA TODAY built a comprehensive database and interactive map of school name changes nationwide since 2020. Reporters analyzed thousands of rows of data and reviewed local news publications to put together a picture of what happened in each case.

The database includes schools that changed names through the end of 2021. But the list of schools shedding old names keeps growing. Just this month, schools in Montgomery, Alabama, were given new identities in place of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis.

If you cannot see a data search tool below, click here.

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Contributing: Alia Wong of USA TODAY

Contact Neena Hagen at Follow her on Twitter at @neena_hagen.